Month: March 2021

Episode 54: West Virginia, America’s Worst Overdose and HIV Hotspot with Lauren Peace

There’s a “twindemic” racing across the state of West Virginia: Covid-19 has collided with an outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C. If that’s not bad enough, West Virginia has the highest overdose death rate in the nation. The CDC recently called the HIV outbreak in Kanawha County, West Virginia the “most concerning” in the country. Make no mistake, this outbreak is preventable, and is largely driven by the failure of local governments to provide syringe service programs to people who use drugs.

Even worse, West Virginia lawmakers are actively trying to pass legislation to further restrict harm reduction programs across the state. Covering this disaster of health and reactionary politics is Lauren Peace, a local investigative reporter at the nonprofit news outlet Mountain State Spotlight. Lauren has been providing vital on the ground coverage of embattled harm reduction programs—programs like Solutions Oriented Addiction Response (SOAR) that are working against a toxic backlash to prevent more HIV cases from spreading and save lives.

This episode is a one-on-one conversation with co-host Zachary Siegel and Lauren, who discusses what it’s like on the ground in West Virginia and the endless battle to put out science-based information in the face of stigma and misguided narratives about harm reduction. Plus, a bit of news at the top of the show about Biden’s pick for ONDCP director (read Zach’s piece in Filter) and Senate Bill 334, a piece of harmful legislation moving through West Virginia’s legislature.

You can follow Lauren on Twitter: @LaurenMPeace and read her work at Mountain State Spotlight.

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Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Lasers
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Bill Dickinson via Flickr // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 53: A Life of Getting Lit with Tommy Chong

It’s kinda weird hearing people say “weed is mainstream” now, when merely possessing the plant stuff can still earn you serious consequences in many parts of the world. But the growing popularity of cannabis is unmistakable. Marijuana is now a global, multi-billion dollar industry—well, to be fair, it always was, only now it’s all legitimate and overtaxed and commercialized instead of enriching drug cartels. 

Regardless, cannabis is more popular than ever, with a rapidly growing fandom among older generations. Even Martha Stewart is into CBD now. But while it’s great to see so many people starting to dig the awesome benefits cannabis sativa offers, it’s important to contextualize the culture and history that got us here. 

On Narcotica, we’ve done more than 50 episodes about all kinds of drugs: opioids, meth, cocaine, psilocybin magic mushrooms, ketamine, even sorta obscure stuff like antibiotics and salvia. But we’ve never done an episode entirely devoted to cannabis! How weird is that? One of the world’s most popular drugs, one I use every day and we just… haven’t gotten to it yet.

So we thought we’d start things off with a bang and bring in one of weed’s biggest fans, none other than comedian, musician and world famous stoner Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong fame. We discuss everything from prison life to getting high in old age to how ‘Up In Smoke’ became a blockbuster hit to the emerging cannabis industry.

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @tommychong

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 2: Anthony Bourdain, Suicide and the Myth of Cross Addiction
Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)
Episode 25: Banning Kratom Will Escalate the Opioid Overdose Crisis with Walter Prozialeck

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Jesse Spillane
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Wikipedia / FreeSVG // edit: Troy Farah